Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Where I grew up is coal country and has been for well over 100 years. If you grew up there chances are you had a relative who worked in the mines. For me, it was my uncles, cousins and father. I never worked in them but did venture in a mine a couple of times. 

When I was 14 my father was a foreman at a mine in Clear Creek, Utah. This is at a high elevation where the snow can reach the rooftops during the winter months. At this time the mine was idle on the weekends, so each foreman would take a shift going through the mine periodically which is the law. You see, when a mine is shut down to reopen it takes a lot of paperwork and inspections. So it is much easier and cheaper to idle the mine and have a guy "sit watch" on Saturday and Sunday. 

My father asked me if I wanted to go with him one Saturday and of course I said yes. I had never been in underground before. These mines go for miles under 2,000-3,000 feet of mountain. The snow pack is always melting and the the drain off goes into the mines. A series of pumps will pump most of the water out but not all of it. Looking back I can always see why my father was battling sinus infections. The cold and wet can mess with you down there. So before we went in he gave me a run down on what to expect and what NOT to do. Many were things you really would not think about, like when you are talking to someone and your lamp is on (a "lamp" is the light that miners wear on their hardhats to see in the darkness of the mine) you shouldn't look directly at them because the brightness of the light will hurt their eyes. One warning I have never forgot and I'll tell you why. In my old man's words; 

"When you see a puddle avoid it. First off, the water down here is just above freezing. It hurts like hell. Second, you don't know how deep they can be, maybe an inch, maybe six feet. The last thing you want is to fall in. You could freeze."

It was cool being down there and seeing where my dad went to work every day. I got to learn about ventilation, I saw a lot of heavy machinery and I learned to admire the hard work and tuff conditions those miners including my uncles and father had to endure. 

Then it happened..........

At one point I stumbled a little and stepped right onto a puddle about 3 feet in diameter. It was inocent looking. Just a plain old looking puddle. But it was deep. As I stepped onto it I went in and ended up waist deep. Yep. Waist deep into the coldest water and mud one could ever experience. I just stood there in shock. It was so cold I thought my manhood had escaped up into my chest. I was also pissed because I looked like an idiot in front of my dad who I had spent all my life trying to make proud of me. 

With a chuckle he helped me get out and I was about 20 pounds heavier because the mud, which looked like brown cottage cheese was clinging to me from my waist down. I had and HAVE never been that cold. So we went out side and into the bath house where I took off my clothes and had a nice warm shower. 

To THIS DAY, I never step into a puddle. 

...............and I can safely say that this guy will never do it again either.   

UPDATE:  The video has been copyrighted and is no longer available.......go make your $100.

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